Monday, November 26, 2012

The Middle West

A flyover state, Ioway                                       
Bahkho-je tribe
distant fields of stubbled corn, bull
thistle, white tailed deer.

"We're friendly", insular with
tranquil town squares, and
backroad diners that say,
eat cheap, "Eat Maid-Rite (since 1926)"

Soybeans and corncribs
The Grain Belt buckle
flatland?  not as flat as
you think, darn
nice place to 
raise kids and 
horses and corn.

here. John Deer
sweet smelling alfalfa
cool farm ponds and 
ruby ripe tomatoes
Cornsilk, goldfinch, sweeping
dark tornadoes.

Raccoon River, baled
corn stalks.
A slow sort of country, "our
liberties we prize, and
our rights will maintain"
Farm land, bottom land...

Family pride.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Spine Poetry

Reporter:  Why don't you write the way you talk?

Gertrude Stein:  Why don't you read the way I write?

What follows are poems I did not write. They are poems I found. 

Like art made of  found objects.

I lined up the spines of various books in my library, across all genres. Some of them are page turners; a few "how to's", long novels, short prose, story collections. 

Just to see what happens when you change your vantage point, I mixed, arranged and shuffled books about, letting the titles tell their own story in the shape of a poem. 

                                  There is no right way.    There is no single narrative. 

                                         Just an arbitrary collection, a literary remix.

Forbidden flowers
middlesex stirring 
the mud,
welcome to the 
monkey house, disturbances
 in the field.

Our bodies, ourselves
animal-speak dancing
with Life
Wisdom of the body moving, coming

To our senses

speak, children of the wolf
all the powerful, invisible things
How it is, out
stealing horses

Broken for you,
housekeeping. The moon
 is a harsh mistress, the rest 
of her life, until 
do us part

The joy of being, the untethered
how we believe genocide
of the mind,
the compass inside ourselves,

revolutionary road, a map
of the world
everything is illuminated, the spirit
catches you, and
you fall down.

*This literary remix experiment 
was inspired by artist  Nina Katchadourian 

Monday, November 12, 2012


You wait
the great waiter
for the kids to get
home from school so you can                        
ask about their day, satisfied
they're happy as they were when
they left you this morning.

You wait for water to boil and cuts
to heal, words you can't take back
(though you wish) they would
disappear forever, no
use waiting.

You wait for normalcy and
equilibrium;  homostasis, is it called?

you wait for test results, pretending
you're not waiting by doing,
every gesture a distraction
like stuffing down food or hastily cleaning shelves and closets, the garage.

Your stomach tightens when you wait.
It's hard to breathe, and your palms
get sweaty or you feel a boiling
irritation about to erupt
You are so damn bored, waiting

for babies to be born, for
snow and ice to melt and darkness to lift
you float in suspended animation, where
it feels like nothing's happening.

You know in your heart true cultivation takes time            
that you have to wait for seed to break soil and
wounds to mend, love to grow
you have to wait for these things
in the absence of urgency, noting
there is nothing you must do
nothing you can do to
push the river, but wait.

But you are impatient by nature, you are a "doer"

You meditate everyday
for years and years and still

You loathe waiting
in anticipation
for the world to roll in at your feet.

You hope everyday to
gain wisdom.
to let things happen, let them be.

You banish from your vocabulary "I can't wait"
because you know there is danger there
in the greatest of sins, grasping

The day won't come too soon (see?)
maybe with enough faith and hard earned patience
one day you'll know, maybe
one day you'll know
You can wait.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cabin Notes: Election Year, Nov. 2012

A Dispatch from Alaska  

1. Drive three hours on steep, snowy, narrow
    mountain roads.

2. Arrive. Assess the river: old                  
    ice, young ice, shorefast ice?

3. Turn propane gas tank On.

4. Start the wood stove.

5. Wait for cabin to heat up (six hrs. at 11 
6. While waiting, drive to well pump site. Insert

7. Fill multiple jugs with water.

8. Return. Feed and water the dog.

9.  Turn on shortwave; listen to weather, and live music from the Mountain Stage.     

10. Go outside. Do some chores to keep warm.

11. Nightfall. (though it's only 5 pm). Put keys in pocket.

12. Grab flashlight.

13. Finger keys in pocket, making doubly SURE they are there.

14. Walk out to generator shed and Start (if you're lucky, it will take on the third try).

15. Turn on the lights, start stovetop and make soup.

16. Wash dishes in tub. Throw dishwater outside in snowbank.

17. Read Gertrude Stein (scratching your head).

18. Revise Chapter 2, again.

19. Watch To Catch A Thief  on your computer. Imagine you are speeding along the French Riviera with Cary Grant.

20. Grab flashlight.                                         

21. Put keys in pocket.

22. Finger keys in pocket making
      doubly SURE they are there.

23. Walk to generator shed, turn
       generator Off.

24. Make way back to cabin door  
      in pitch black (unless the
      moon is out).

25. Put cell phone, keys and 
      flashlight next to bed (in case of

26. Turn flashlight off.

27. Meditate.

Quarreling trees?
28. Relish complete and total silence.     

29. Sleep

Next day: Will your day change in any way,
regardless of who becomes president?

Don't let any blow torch pundit or yackety-yack friend ruin your simple, bare-and-naked

Know in your heart your vote was a true,
and honest choice

Stay warm out there.